The realm of Black Metal is often noted for it’s colourful, yet usually monochrome, characters, and definitely one of the most infamous is the iconoclastic and enigmatic Gaahl, former frontman of Gorogorth, Trelldom, Godseed. An obvious showcase for Gaahls considerable vocal talents Gaahls Wyrd Debut, Gastir – Ghosts Invited (Season of Mist) is an extremely potent album and well worth a listen.
An atmospheric opening with track ‘Ek Erilar’, which loosely translates as ‘I am the runemaster’, this sets the tone for the album buzzing tones and a production which gives a really full sound and creates a very natural atmosphere, before kicking in with some magnificent atmospheric Black Metal, pulsing along as if with its own heartbeat and ritualistic quality it feels alive.
‘From The Spear’ continues the album with some titanic drums blasting away enthusiastically, and changing gears between the fast Black Metal and slow and gothic sections in a manner which is very natural. ‘Ghost Invited’, showcases Gaahl’s clean vocals in a way which really fills the mix, the deep vocals and long chants conjuring the forest spirits as they resonate around the mind, it’s potent stuff.
7-minute epic ‘Carving the Voices’ also features the deep haunting vocals and is quite reminiscent of ‘Sign of an Open Eye’ by Gorgoroth which will certainly please many of Gaahl’s long-term fans. There’s a dark brooding quality to this track which is more than capable of providing chills and making one well up with the sheer emotional intensity of it, especially when combined with the video released for it.
‘Vieztu Hve’ picks things up with a much faster start and is more of a traditional Black Metal, except of course with great production, halfway through morphing into something which feels like a much heavier manifestation of Wardruna, a very heavy folk element which envelops you.
The album then moves into a couple of more straight forward tracks, ‘The Speech And The Self’ is much more straight forward track with blast beats aplenty and a slightly more Celtic feel akin to the likes of Primordial, pulling you out of the spiritual trance and smashing you around a bit for good measure, before launching into straight up banger of a track ‘Through And Past The Past’, which will be many a fan favourite.
The album closes out slowly with ‘Within The Voice Of Existence’, a long drawn out build up slowly, before leading to a ritualistic finale resplendent with chanting and an excellent showcase of Gaahl’s vocal talents.
Gastir – Ghosts Invited is an extremely accomplished album, both spiritually laden with invocations to nebulous forest spirits, exploring various tempos and moods. Letting the process dictate the pace gives it an almost channeled feel rather than something which has been overly composed or constructed, and at times the result of this is nothing short of beautiful. I am especially looking forward to seeing these at Damnation Festival 2019.